What is it about stories of transformation that catch our attention? Whether they’re about personal transformation, deeper spiritual conversion, enduring external trials, or hearing a deeper call in the midst of a good life, stories of personal change grip our hearts and remain in our minds long after we first heard them.
These 10 books tell the stories of people whose lives changed profoundly, in all kinds of different ways. Each one is an inspiring read, and if you’ve got someone on your Christmas list who seems impossible to shop for, you might find the perfect gift in one of these books!
This is the no-holds-barred true story of Jim Wahlberg, the fifth of nine kids growing up in a working-class Irish Catholic neighborhood outside of Boston. Like his brothers Donnie and Mark Wahlberg, Jim grew up in very difficult circumstances. His teen and young adult years were marked by crime, substance abuse, and time in prison.
Against all odds, through the life-changing mentorship of a wise and holy priest and an unforgettable encounter with a modern-day saint, Jim turned his life around—the biggest hustle of them all. Carve out some time before you open up this book, because once you start reading, you won’t be able to put it down.
Salt and Light: The Spiritual Journey of Élisabeth and Félix Leseur by Bernadette Chovelon
Élisabeth and Félix Leseur seemed like the perfect couple, compatible in every way, but with one small catch: Élisabeth was a devout Catholic, while Félix was a convicted atheist. During their decades of marriage, Élisabeth experienced a reawakening and deepening of her faith, and offered ardent prayers and sacrifices for her husband while living a life of luminous goodness and charity. Meanwhile, he was a vocal opponent of the Church, publicly attacking the faith that was so dear to her.
After his wife’s death, however, Félix discovered her spiritual diary, and learned of her sacrifices for him. In a story that only God could have written, he converted and became a Dominican priest. This is the story of their mutual conversions and a love story that led them both to God.
Convicted by Mercy: The Journey of Frank Simmonds from the Streets to Sanctity by Rita A. Simmonds
The story of Frank Simmonds’ life is extraordinary enough on its own: He overcame a very rough past to become a pillar and leader of his Catholic community, who faced immense suffering with heroic courage. But this book is even more extraordinary because it was written by Simmonds’ wife, the gifted writer and poet Rita A. Simmonds, whose poetry will be familiar to readers of Magnificat. The heart of this book is Frank’s relationship with God, and his ongoing “yes” to God’s will.
The Shadow of His Wings: The True Story of Fr. Gereon Goldmann by Fr. Gereon Goldmann
When a young German seminarian was drafted into Hitler’s dreaded SS at the onset of World War II, he found a way to complete his priestly training, be ordained, and secretly minister to German Catholic soldiers and innocent civilian victims. This book recalls his trials of war, many escapes from death, and the cruel persecution that he and other Catholics faced because of their faith. The book is an extraordinary witness to God’s Providence and the power of love, prayer, faith, and sacrifice
No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy by Fr. Donald Calloway
Calloway’s journey from a runaway teen to a Catholic priest devoted to Mary is thrillingly told, and reminds us powerfully that no one is beyond the reach of God’s call.
C.S. Lewis’ conversion from atheism to Christianity featured in new film
What happens when a woman seems to “have it all,” yet feels unfulfilled? This fascinating memoir recounts how Fulwiler changed from a convicted atheist to a devout Catholic, with plenty of challenges (and funny moments!) along the way.
From Fire, by Water: My Journey to the Catholic Faith by Sohrab Ahmari
Ahmari gradually transforms from the atheism and Marxism of his youth to a spiritual awakening prompted by Mass. His eloquent memoir brings together many of the major ideas and events of our time.
The Ear of the Heart: An Actress’ Journey from Hollywood to Holy Vows by Mother Dolores Hart, O.S.B., with Richard DeNeut
Since childhood, Dolores had dreamed of being a movie actress. Now at last, with 10 successful feature films and a Tony-nominated Broadway performance on her résumé, she was reaching the peak of a glamorous career.
But something changed in her when she played St. Clare in the movie Francis of Assisi, filmed on location in Italy. She heard a mysterious call, deep in the heart, to religious life. This is the moving story of her transformation, and of the journey from being a Hollywood star to the prioress at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut.
In his book, Lowry tells how he turned away from the Protestant faith of his upbringing twice. First, as a young man, he made poor decisions that led him away from God. Then, after he recommitted himself to following Christ, his search for truth led him away from his father’s faith to Catholicism. The winding road of these two conversions makes a compelling read.
Deathbed Conversions: Finding Faith at the Finish Line by Karen Edmisten
If someone likes reading conversion stories, this book is a gold mine! These conversion stories reveal the transformative power of God’s mercy. Each one is different, showing the uniqueness of each person’s path to God.
Alumni remember Kansas university’s humanities program, credited with Catholic conversions